Angels in L.A.
Me at Le Parc Hotel
Within a few weeks of meeting Rick Nowels, I flew out to L. A. where I spent over a year writing and recording the rest of Tiger Mouth.
I stayed in Le Parc Hotel for most of this time, in West Hollywood. It was cool living in a hotel for such a long time. I would get back at around midnight from Rick's studio in Fredonia Drive, Laurel Canyon and sit by the pool and watch the HollyWood lights shimmer like fallen stars in the desert.
A glass of vintage red wine and an American Spirit cigarette, were my only company for most of those evenings. I would sit by the empty hotel swimming pool and write lyrics for the songs we were working on and it was a very peaceful and luxurious time, for which, I am always grateful.
The days were mostly spent in Rick's studio and it was one of the most valuable and lasting lessons, to work with Rick and his crew of engineers and musicians.
I learned more about writing a song from Rick than anyone else I have ever met and I feel that to write and spend time with him at his studio for as long as I did, was a unique and rewarding experience.
View from Rick's L.A. studio
It was very interesting to work with someone who believes so strongly in " the record ". It was not a time for writing abstract melodies or ten minute long introductions, which I am so enjoying at the moment. It was a time, however, for learning about verses and choruses and middle 8 ' s. Structure. Beautiful frameworks and golden triangles in the musical sense which would create a little story and inspire the listener to hum along and smile.
This may sound trite to some of the more puritanical music makers and listeners alike, but for me, it was an amazing insight into the mechanics of writing a pop song and Tiger Mouth for me, was an experiment and adventure into a place I had never been. I enjoyed the lushness of the strings and the Kyoto and Shakuhachi for which I wrote a part in Paper Moon. I loved the sense of making something fresh and at the time I never realized, totally unexpected by friends and followers.
Later on, when I returned to London, I was shocked at the narrow mindedness of the music press and various people within the music " industry " who felt that my making such a lush album as Tiger Mouth with such pop moguls as Rick Nowels and Marius De Vries, was in some way a sell out or effort to go " main stream ". Nothing could have been further from my mind, when I was making Tiger Mouth and I am glad that in many ways, Tiger Mouth freed me from a label or category that so many people would like to box music and musicians into. For the sake of ease and sales, it is easier for the media to "understand" what it is they' re selling but rest assured, I make music with all my heart and soul without any commercial interest what so ever and I am glad that I made Tiger Mouth when and how and with whom I made it. The doubters may kiss my sorry ass.
But I diverge.
Some times, Rick would sit and play a guitar or the piano and we would play around with ideas for hours on end, eventually something would spark and a song would be made. Some times I would write with Wayne Rodriguez and Rick, he's a wicked programmer and we had fun working together. Fellow Man came about very much from Wayne' s loop skill.
Other times, I would bring a song that I had programmed into my little sequencer, like Tiger Mouth and Paper Moon and we would add instruments and new parts.
Other times, I' d have a melody in mind and we'd go from there. There's no one way to start a song. Sometimes, they appear when you least expect them too, like when you're really not thinking about writing a song and all of a sudden, you're just hearing it, it's unfolding in your mind and all you have to do is get to a guitar or a piano fast as you can.
Working with other people has always been exciting for me, especially when those people have lived and made music in times before I was even born. I mean that always makes me feel really lucky to be able to work with people whom have done and seen so much more than me.
John Densmore(L) me & Rick
One day Rick said that he knew John Densmore, the drummer from The Doors and he would play some hand percussion on a song we'd just written called Kids, if we asked him nice. Man, Jim Morrisson is one of my heroes and The Doors one of my favorite bands ever, so I was over the Moon!
John Densmore arrived at the studio and played some wicked hand percussion on Kids. If you know the song, you'll probably be able to picture the scene. I wanted to ask him all about being in one of the most amazing bands, times, cities and playing with Jim Morrisson but got the vibe that he was kind of tired about talking about all that stuff with strangers and he was more into talking about his life now, his political beliefs etc. It was a good experience and I was grateful that he took the time to come and play with us.
Everyone who played on the album was super cool and so willing to try ideas out, even if, at first,
they didn't understand them, they were open and experienced enough to go with them and that's what makes Tiger Mouth, in so many ways, a musically diverse album. No one was sitting there with preconceptions about me or the music, they were ready to try anything.
Alan playing the Devil
I made some good friends for sure, Kirstin Johnson and Lena Di Genti made sure it wasn't all work and no play!
I guess one of the most beautiful things about making music, is all the people you meet along the way. Tiger Mouth was the start of my solo journey and will remain a very special album for me and I hope everyone who played a part in its creation.
The last six weeks of making Tiger Mouth was spent in a new studio that Rick Nowels had bought in Santa Monica. It was a totally different vibe from the studio In Laurel Canyon. We wrote Angel In L . A . and Inferno High love at the new studio.
That ' s where I met the Psychic Cat, on 3rd St Promenade , Santa Monica but that's another story